People who have been exposed to loose-fill asbestos in their homes often experience psychological distress over the potential impact on their health, according to new research.
The Australian National University (ANU) has published the third report in its Asbestos Healthy Study series, which explored how individuals who lived in ACT properties where the hazardous material was found have reacted to the news.
According to the results, one-third of 363 people who resided in a ‘Mr Fluffy’ house had seen a health care professional to manage their physical or mental health since the scandal broke.
Loose-fill asbestos was fitted to various homes in Canberra during the 1960s and 1970s, with the substance blown into roof spaces as insulation. Exposure to asbestos can cause serious diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.
“Some people who responded to the survey have experienced high levels of psychological distress and health concerns,” said Associate Professor Phil Batterham, co-author of the Asbestos Health Study.
Asbestos information important
The survey showed 52 per cent of residents had entered the roof space of their home, while 64 per cent had been in their under-floor areas, potentially exposing themselves to asbestos.
Seven per cent of respondents said they were suffering from a health problem due to asbestos, although the majority of these were stress or anxiety related rather than mesothelioma and other diseases.
Professor Batterham said the survey wasn’t all bad news, and government agencies and other professional bodies can alleviate stress by providing better information on asbestos.
“The report finds people who have received health information relating to exposure to asbestos reported lower levels of stress and concern,” he stated.
“The findings suggest that providing timely and sufficient access to health information is important to reducing the stresses associated with living in an affected residence.”
Health concerns still rife
Despite Professor Batterham’s comments, one-quarter of people said they suffered high levels of distress over their asbestos exposure, and more than 75 per cent were concerned about the health of their children.
The first instalment of the Asbestos Health Survey revealed that 140 cases of mesothelioma were reported in the ACT between 1982 and 2014. Overall, 626 individuals died from the disease in 2015, according to the Australian Mesothelioma Registry.
In NSW, people who develop asbestos-related diseases may be eligible for compensation to help them cover medical bills and financially support themselves and their families.
Please contact us at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers if you would like to learn more about your options.